B.C. Elections 2020: Kamloops North Thompson remains a long shot for NDP | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Elections 2020: Kamloops North Thompson remains a long shot for NDP

The candidates for the 2020 B.C. election for Kamloops North Thompson.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
October 23, 2020 - 7:30 PM

While not quite as devout to the B.C. Liberals as their southern cousins, the Kamloops-North Thompson riding has long been considered a safe seat for the so-called 'free enterprise party'.

The B.C. Liberals have won every election in this riding for the past 24 years, with the B.C. NDP coming second — and often a distant second — every time. The seat has been held by the B.C. Liberals since 1996, when Kevin Kruger unseated B.C. NDP MLA Frederick H. Jackson.

In 2017, former Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar held the seat for the Liberals with 12,001 votes, followed by B.C. NDP candidate Barb Nederpel with 7,538 votes. In 2013, Liberal incumbent Terry Lake won handily with 12,183 votes, followed by the NDP with 9,139 votes. Now just three years removed from the last election, has the governing NDP done enough to sway that many voters? Milobar has one term under his belt now, but his chief opponent, Sadie Hunter, also has plenty of name recognition as a current city councillor.

The riding includes a large chunk of the city north of the Thompson River but is also mixed with much smaller Clearwater and Barriere and the northeastern portion of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

A map of the North Thompson riding.
A map of the North Thompson riding.
Image Credit: Elections BC

Today's issues:

In a 2018 survey conducted by the City of Kamloops, a total of 201 individuals were identified as experiencing homelessness. Of that total, 52 per cent of respondents stated that they had been homeless for a year or more and 48 per cent identified as Indigenous or were of Indigenous descent. While finding support for that population is important, the city, like many others in the B.C. interior, has struggled to manage conflicts among the greater community. 

That has forced the City of Kamloops to get involved in ways it never has before. The City announced an ambitious plan to re-designate and re-train bylaw officers to deal with more complex social issues. Mayor Ken Christian was one of several larger city mayors calling on a change in relationship with the provincial government if it's going to pick up the cheque — and the responsibility — for dealing with social issues. 

Accompanying homelessness issues is the cost of housing. The City conducted a Housing Needs Assessment in August this year which revealed that home prices have increased by 117.9 per cent from 2006 to 2019 compared to an overall inflation rate of 18.8 per cent.

Between 2005 and 2019, the median rent for a one bedroom unit increased by 74.4 per cent, making it challenging for those those earning a median income to afford a one bedroom or larger. While there has been an increase in construction and supportive housing in Kamloops, the Housing Needs Assessment reports 252 households waiting for social housing and 153 applicants waiting for supportive housing.

Kamloops also experienced a significant spike in drug related crime in 2019, and saw more people die of illegal drug overdoses in the first half of 2020 than all of 2019.

The the B.C. Coroners Service reported that Kamloops had 43 overdose deaths in Sept. 2020. Through all of 2019, 26 people died of overdoses in Kamloops.

Some issues in Kamloops have continued unabated for years: Access to family doctors, access to child care and a cancer centre so residents don't have to travel to Kelowna for treatments. On that note, however, both the Liberals and NDP have committed to bringing a cancer care centre to the city. 

Today's issues:

In a 2018 survey conducted by the City of Kamloops, a total of 201 individuals were identified as experiencing homelessness. Of that total, 52 per cent of respondents stated that they had been homeless for a year or more and 48 per cent identified as Indigenous or were of Indigenous descent. 

The City conducted a Housing Needs Assessment in August this year which revealed that home prices have increased by 117.9 per cent from 2006 to 2019 compared to an overall inflation rate of 18.8 per cent. 

Between 2005 and 2019, the median rent for a one bedroom unit increased by 74.4 per cent, making it challenging for those those earning a median income to afford a one bedroom or larger. While there has been an increase in construction and supportive housing in Kamloops, the Housing Needs Assessment reports 252 households waiting for social housing and 153 applicants waiting for supportive housing. 

Kamloops also experienced a significant spike in drug related crime in 2019, and saw more people die of illegal drug overdoses in the first half of 2020 than all of 2019.

The the B.C. Coroners Service reported that Kamloops had 43 overdose deaths in Sept. 2020. Through all of 2019, 26 people died of overdoses in Kamloops.

 

Do voters show up?

Kamloops has consistently had a voter turnout above 50 per cent. In the last election, the North Thompson riding had a 60.34 per cent voter turnout, a boost from 2009, where 55.03 per cent cast their ballot. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elections B.C. has received an unprecedented number of vote-by-mail package requests this election. As of October 13, 680,000 voters requested vote-by-mail packages. In the 2017 provincial election, 6,517 voters voted by mail.

As of Oct. 20, 6,913 people have voted ahead of Election Day, out of a total of 44,809 eligible voters in the riding.

 

Who to vote for in Kamloops North Thompson?

Dennis Giesbrecht, Conservative

Dennis Giesbrecht was raised in Kamloops and has roots in the community as early as the 1980s.

He has over 20 years experience in the oil and gas industry in B.C., and is a strong advocate for the resource sector.

Sadie Hunter, B.C. NDP

Sadie Hunter is a Kamloops City Councillor, elected in 2018.
Hunter holds a Masters degree in environmental science with a focus on policy and planning, as well as undergraduate degrees in journalism and ecology, all from Thompson Rivers University and the University College of the Cariboo.

Her platform has a strong focus on her lived experience with raising a child as a single parent below the poverty line. She moved to Kamloops in 2001.

Thomas Martin, B.C. Green Party

Thomas Martin worked for many years in and around Kamloops as a wildfire fighter.

He has a background in forestry, and is currently the Wildfire Project Manager for Cabin Resource Management. His platform focusses on addressing issues within the natural resource sector.

Peter Milobar, B.C. Liberal Party

Peter Milobar is a former mayor of Kamloops. He served as mayor for nine years, and on City Council for six years.

His primary campaign promise is putting a Cancer Centre in the Royal Inland Hospital. He is running for re-election, after winning his seat in 2017.  

Brandon Russell, Independent

Brandon Russell is a young social advocate who has spent his entire life in Kamloops. His platform is focused on environmental issues in B.C. such as wildfires and climate change.

For the past six years Russell has participated in and hosted Model United Nations conferences. He developed virtual Model UN communities during the COVID-19 pandemic to connect student leaders from around the world. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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